As in past summers, the Gulf Coast promises to be a +100 degree, sweltering hot house. Imagine being in this swelter and cleaning up the mess from the Gulf Oil Spill.
The "Deepwater Horizon" offshore platform exploded April 20 and triggered an underwater oil gusher. The gusher has been spewing 200,000 gallons of crude oil a day and continues to gush. So far, it is estimated that more than 6 million gallons of crude oil have spewed into the Gulf. The spill is the size of the state of New Jersey.
While Fishermen and tour boat captains sit idle as thick crude invades their state's shorelines, some businesses are flourishing. Clean-up companies like "Coastal Tank Cleaning" have been contracted to clean up the mess from the spill. Much as he hates to say it, Mark Leonard knows it's true: The oil spill that is fouling the Gulf of Mexico may save his family's business. Leonard, 34, is operations manager for Coastal Tank Cleaning, a company called in to help set booms to prevent oil from the Deepwater Horizon leak from getting into Lake Pontchartrain. The Morgan City-based company sent 10 workers and equipment to a staging area at Fort Pike, on the eastern tip of New Orleans. "We don't want this to happen," he said. "We didn't want this to be our saving grace to keep the company going. But this is something that I think is helping a lot of companies that were down, and possibly wondering `When is it finally going to pick up?' `When can we start working again and staffing again and paying our bills?'"
The work is difficult, dirty and sometimes overwhelming in the +100 degree heat. Sometimes it is unsafe. Some fishermen who have been contracted by BP to clean up the gulf oil spill say they have become ill after working long hours near waters fouled with oil and dispersant, prompting a Louisiana lawmaker to call on the federal government to open mobile clinics in rural areas to treat them. The fishermen report severe headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing. Concerned by the reports, Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.) wrote to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking the agency's help providing medical treatment, especially in Plaquemines Parish, a southern region where many fishermen live.
The oil clean-up is a job most Americans do not want to do. As with the clean-up of the Southeast after Hurricane Katrina, many of those being hired to do this massive job are numerous Latino workers and many of them are undocumented. For the last 100+ years, Latino workers have been called upon to help Nation Build this great country of ours and complete some of the most strenuous and difficult jobs that many Americans do not want to do. This is yet another example. My prediction is the majority of those hired to clean-up this massive, massive ecological mess made due to Americans consumption of oil will be performed by undocumented workers. This time, I think we need Comprehensive Immigration Reform as payback for their hard work!